BUCS 18/19 Playoff Picks: Division One Semi-Finals

Strictly speaking the Division One finals are in a fortnight’s time… but let’s be clear: the games that really matter take place this Sunday, when we learn which programmes will be plying their trade in the top tier of British University football next season! 

The North

Coventry Jets (4) vs NTU Renegades (7)

Two conference rivals who got very familiar with one another this season as they each took a win from one another on their route to the postseason. Coventry have impressed all season long, particularly so considering it’s their first campaign in the middle tier, while the Renegades are finally starting to play like the team we expected them to be coming into the season – big playoff wins against top seeds now sees them on the cusp of a return to top tier football!

Record
6-2-0  5-3-0
Offence
 25.75
(9th)
17.88
(15th)
 Defence
12.88
(8th)
 15.25
(13th)
Previous Round

Coventry: The Jets are looking utterly unstoppable since hitting the postseason – they followed up a huge win over the UCLan Rams with an equally impressive showing against their conference rivals, Loughborough. They leapt out to an early lead and never looked back!

NTU: Considering we were starting to ask questions about whether the Renegades would even see postseason action after their form dipped in the second half of the season, the Nottingham outfit have bounced back with incredible conviction – two decisive wins over the #2 and #1 seeds in the North now see them playing for a return to top tier football, hot on the heels of their local rivals, Uni of, who earned a Prem North title this season.

Interestingly, despite hitting the road for both their postseason fixtures so far, the Renegades are yet to be considered ‘underdogs’ by the community – going into their quarter-finals fixture versus Hallam with 50% of the vote, before more than justifying it with a huge 7-27 victory. Can the Renegades keep the roll going?

Season High:

Coventry: It might have been a modest 8-0 scoreline, but the Jets’ win over Loughborough definitely raised eyebrows – suddenly the newly promoted side were right in the mix as potential 1A Midlands champs.

NTU: The Renegades reminded us all why they were amongst the preseason favourites for promotion in Week Twelve, with a resounding 21-0 win over Loughborough.

Season Low:

Coventry: The obvious choice here might be the Jets’ loss to Loughborough in Week Six – the Midlands frontrunners had clearly figured out the Jets’ scheme in the intervening fortnight, and Coventry were held to just a single score. However, I think the fixture that’ll haunt them more is the Week Two loss to the Renegades – having lead by a healthy margin at the half, the Jets allowed the Renegades back into the game during the fourth quarter.

Even then, they had a chance to take the game to overtime with a final-seconds score, but came up short on the 2PAT. Had the Jets won that one? They’d probably be 1A Midlands champs right now.

NTU: Coming out of the break right in the mix at the top of the table, the Renegades suffered a crushing loss to Coventry in Week Nine, and when they followed this up with an even more shocking loss to the at-the-time winless Leicester Longhorns? This set alarm bells ringing.

When last they met…

1A Midlands rivals, these two outfits have clashed twice already this season. NTU took the first meeting – a corker of a game where they trailed 0-20 at the half, but rocked their way back into the game, including holding off a last-second 2PAT conversion for a 26-28 win!

The second meeting, however, swung distinctly in the other direction as the Jets soared to a 44-13 victory – leading to questions about whether the Renegades were really a postseason-worthy outfit at all.

We’re fairly certain they’ve answered those questions.

—–

It’s a credit to the strength of the 1A Midlands that for the second season in a row they’ll be sending a team to the Premiership North… Now we just need to figure out which one!

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll:

The Jets edge the picks in both the pundit and community polls – they may have rolled right over the Renegades only a month or so ago, but the Renegades have clearly refound their fire as the season reaches its climax and definitely have the potential to make this one helluva promotion-clash!

 

The South

UEA Pirates (2) vs Exeter Demons (5)

Ultimate underdogs, the Exeter Demons, have made a bad habit of upsetting the odds on a number of occasions this season, and now they’ll join the UEA Pirates as two teams who are rather more familiar with being on the edge of the limelight, as opposed to contesting a coveted spot in the Premiership South!

Record
 7-1-0 5-3-0
Offence
 31.30
(3rd)
19.38
(12th)
 Defence
 6.63
(3rd)
17.75
(16th)
Previous Round:

UEA: The Pirates avoided being stung by the Bees, their defence, in particular, continuing its strong run of form to completely shut down the Bath offence. UEA have allowed just two scores in their last four outings!

Exeter: Though Exeter have been competitive all season long, one team that appeared to have their number during the regular season were 1A South West Champs, the Southampton Stags. Stags had taken comfortable wins from the Demons on both meetings between the two teams, and yet on this third occasion the Devon outfit finally found the right formula to stay ahead of Southampton – leading throughout the fixture and holding any late comebacks from the Stags offence.

Season High:

UEA: Easy-peasy. It might have only been a 6-0 scoreline, but that win over Kent probably meant more to the Pirates than anything this year, playoffs included.

Exeter: Our BUCS team unanimously picked against the Demons to lose against the Bees this year. Twice.

These two wins were the lynchpin of the Demons’ postseason run… Our bad guys.

Season Low:

UEA: Week Four, and the Pirates found themselves shutout against the Falcons. It must’ve felt like another year of narrowly missing out to their nemesis lay ahead of them…

Exeter: The Demons game out of the Christmas break with three straight wins to set them up as a playoff outfit… potentially even a title contender! However, they simply couldn’t get things going in their final regular season clash against the Stags, and instead will come into the postseason off the back of their first touchdown-less game of the year. (We suspect they’ve got this monkey off their backs now!)

When last they met…

Not entirely sure these two teams have ever clashed… Exeter are a comparatively young outfit, and given the 300 miles between the two teams, it’s not like they regularly arrange friendlies in the preseason… Possible for a BUAFL-era postseason meeting, I’ll keep digging.

—–

East meets West as we see two teams that, let’s be frank, weren’t included in many preseason conversations about teams who’d be playing Premiership football next season, go head to head!

Both outfits have found their form at the perfect time… can they continue the hot streak right to Premiership balling?

Who wins?

Click or tap the spoiler tab below to reveal our BUCS office picks, as well as the results of the Britball Nation Pick’em poll!

Spoiler
BUCS Office:

Pick’Em Poll: 

A general consensus between the pundits and community in this one – the Pirates are narrow favourites, despite the Demons’ growing reputation as giant-slayers through the postseason so far!

It’s perhaps worth noting that if we’d let Coach Ward-Best have a say, we’d’ve seen a split poll… but it seems the rest of the BUCS office still aren’t ready to pick for the plucky Exeter outfit.

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Nick

Nick 'Willy Tee' Wilson-Town hails from the South West where he's spent the last decade bouncing around various teams at the university and senior level. He came to fame on the now departed unofficial forum thanks to his regularly irreverent Uniball predictions and general 'BUAFL wafflage'. Follow him on twitter @WillyTee1